As the Cleveland Indians bullpen continues to make things interesting at the end of games comes word of closer Chris Perez set to make his final minor league rehab appearance this week for the Class AA Akron Aeros.
Eligible since Friday to be activated off of the 15-day disabled list, the Indians decided to give Perez a little more time to rehab and receive therapy for his right rotator cuff strain and tendinitis; the decision was made a little easier to make after Perez' last outing the Aeros, which saw him give up five earned runs on three home runs in one inning of work.
The extra days on the DL appear to have done the trick, with rave reviews coming from manager Terry Francona after word of an encouraging simulated game session on Sunday:
It went really well. He [Perez] was thrilled. We want to see how he bounces back first of all and
then we'll figure it out.
On the DL since May 27, the return of Perez would potentially be a large part of any push the Indians make on the Detroit Tigers and their four game lead over the Tribe in the AL Central. While performing admirably in the closer role, Vinnie Pestano has had his issues holding down the 9th inning and other bullpen mates, such as lefty Rich Hill and Nick Hagadone, have had their troubles filling in with Perez out. The Indians bullpen currently ranks 14th out of the 15 AL teams with a -0.3 fWAR, with a league worst 12 saves converted.
In between shoulder woes and legal troubles, Perez has pitched 16.2 innings with a 2-1 record, 4.32 ERA, and six saves, good for a paltry -0.5 fWAR. While enjoying a 9.72 K/9 rate along with an impressive .250 BABIP, the longball has killed Perez in 2013, averaging 2.16 HR/9 and a 22.2% HR/FB ratio.
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